After doing some research on well known and respected tea estates and factories in the Nilgiri area of south India (Tamil Nadu), I came across the Craigmore Plantations. I have been wanting to enhance my familiarity with the teas from Nilgiri, and the high quality orthodox teas from Craigmore Plantations will certainly help me put together a more vivid picture of what to expect from this region.
The Craigmore Plantations were originally established in 1884 under the name Ceylon Land and Produce Company. It was not until 1977 that the business was renamed the Craigmore Plantations (India) Private Limited. The plantations consist of 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) of land. Only high grown orthodox black teas and pan-fired green teas are produced at Craigmore by it’s 1,400 workers. The plantations and factory are located at an elevation of about 1,675 meters (5,500 feet). The Craigmore Plantation Factory produces the high-grown orthodox black teas, while the Pascoe Woodlands Factory produces the high-grown pan-fired green teas.
Craigmore Plantations carries the following certifications: Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Ethical Tea Partnership, and Global GAP. All teas meet or exceed the European Union requirements for pesticide residue limits.
The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet yet earthy aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform faded black color, with the small stems having a copper color. There are a few stems in the mix. The leaves are mostly medium sized fragments, and are neatly rolled. There are maybe two or three very small golden tips, but they appear to be tip fragments. The leaves break cleanly, with very little crumbling. The aroma has scents of raw cacao, earth, leather, and valley flowers. The aroma was definitely intriguing, and I will be interested to reopen the sample pack to see if I pick up the same scents.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were steeped for 4:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect two quality infusions from the same serving of leaves, with the second infusion being notably lighter than the first.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden orange color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of caramel, light wood, dandelion, and black pepper. The body is medium-full, with a lively texture, and immediately sends a surge of energy through the body. The taste has notes of caramel, daisy, light rose, light wood, and light lemon. There is a nice and moderate astringency. The aftertaste is sweet and slightly lemony.
The infused leaves are mostly a copper brown color, but some lean to the greenish-brown side of the color wheel. The leaves are mostly medium sized fragments, but there are some larger fragments as well, and some stems. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma of the leaves is quite sweet, with scents of caramel, a sweet spice (clove?), light wood, light daisy, and light citrus.
This FOP Supreme Black Tea is a nicely balanced black tea, providing a sweet, floral, and woodsy aroma and taste, which compliments the moderate astringency very well. There is no need to add lemon to this tea, as it has a natural lemony character at the back of the tongue and persists through the aftertaste. Although milk is not necessary with the 3:00 minute infusion time, adding another minute will produce a strong enough tea that a splash of milk will compliment quite nicely. This tea gave a boost of energy and awareness literally from the first sip, and makes for a great morning to early afternoon tea. The second infusion is lighter overall, but is quite refreshing. If you like Ceylon tea, give the teas of Craigmore Plantations a try. They are different, yet provide the same lively mouth feel. This would also make a great cold brew, or would be very refreshing iced.
I still have some unopened samples from Poabs Organic Estate located in Kerala, which is the neighboring area to the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu. I definitely plan to do a side by side comparison of the FBOP grades from Poabs and Craigmore. It is always interesting to compare the same grade of tea from two neighboring areas of production.
Thank you to the management of Craigmore Plantations for generously providing this sample, as well as others from the high grown orthodox black tea and high grown pan fired green tea categories. The review of the Young Hyson pan-fired green tea will be published in the near future. Cheers!